Sunday, June 21, 2009

The FU Pre-Draft Spec-tac-u-lar

For most Basketball fans, the time between the end of the Finals and the Draft can be a bit of a bore. For days on in, we hear about players' stocks rising and falling as every aspect of their beings are measured to determine whether or not that player deserves his name to be called by David Stern in a certain spot in the order. It's like roll call for prospective millionaires. Well, I'm one of those people that enjoys the pre-draft talk, and I was conversing with two brothers (literally) about June 25th while looking through old AAU books. They asked that I do something for the draft, and I will. I won't attempt to predict who goes where, because you can go to the various Hoops sites for that. Besides, the FD crew wrote an amazing one based on their FD-ness. (Note: read the picks before you criticize the order of their draft.) I'd rather give my assessment of the individual players using some of the basic categories, mixed with some...different ones, written in that high school yearbook nominations kind of way. If you're still with me, there's more after the random picture...

Best Scorer: James Harden, Arizona State. Crafty, bearded, and deceptively athletic, James Harden is this year's Brandon Roy. Most believe that because he isn't flashy that he won't pan out in the Association. But he should be a solid starter for years to come. His game isn't as polished as B-Roy's, but it's pretty close. Or maybe people don't dig that he wore a T-shirt. I did, even though he has nothing on this guy.

Best Shooter: Stephen Curry, Davidson. Done. Next.

Best Defender: Eric Maynor, VCU. The darling of March Madness in 2006 from VCU has played his way into the first round. He isn't rated among the elite point guards, but he definitely plays the best man-to-man defense—just ask Darren Collison and former Duke PG Syracuse QB Greg Paulus. Not the most consistent shooter, but he will effectively run your team and won't cost them a game.

Most Likely to Be Kevin Durant: Jonny Flynn, Syracuse/Stephen Curry, Davidson (tie). Mr. Durant was blessed with the opportunity to be in a situation in which he was going to a team that was in flux, with little talent, and a shifty owner. As a result, he was blessed with the opportunity to be The Man right away, and not have to defer to any veterans. Plus, he's really, really good. The same goes for Flynn and Curry in this draft. This title, like every draft pick, will depend on where these two guards are taken. Meaning, which one falls to the Knicks and given the keys to Mike D's SSOL Ferrari. Both have the potential to be D'Antoni's new Maestro, and can further actualize his revolutionary schemes. It all depends on if Al Harrington is willing to share in a contract year, and if Larry Hughes doesn't play like Larry Hughes. Mike D will no doubt give whomever his new floor general is the green light until Lebron gets there next year to score and distribute to his heart's desire. And Mike D will be able to prove that is his his vision and not Nash's wizardry that was paramount in Phoenix's success.

Most Likely to be Greg Oden: Hasheem Thabeet, UConn. Thabeet is what Oden was three years ago, except Oden played well in big NCAA games, while Thabeet was constantly dominated by other low post players (see: Blair, DaJuan). He blocks shots, but is very limited on offense. He's more mobile than Oden, and doesn't have the injury history. You can't teach his timing when contesting shots, so he'll be of service if he does that.

Most Likely to Look Like Greg Oden: Sam Young, Pitt. Don't front, Sam Grizzle looks like Greg Oden's long lost son. With that obvious observation aside, Young should be a solid contributor to a contending team (Are you listening, Cleveland/San Antonio/New Orleans?). Jamie Dixon schooled him in defense, and combined with his explosiveness and "The Grizzle Fake," Sam will be in the League for awhile...even though he looks like he's signed a couple mid-level exceptions already.

Most Underrated Prospect: Terrence Williams, Lousiville. He's the most complete player in the draft, yet most people feel his Cardinals teammate Earl Clark will be the better pro. Athleticism, rebounding, passing, and leadership are the tools he brings to a franchise. Once immature at UL, he bought into Pitino's preachings in his junior year and is now twice the player he was as a freshman. The only knock is that he's a four-year player, and most scouts believe that his ceiling's too low. I believe that whoever takes him is getting the steal of the draft.

Most Overrated Prospect: Jrue Holiday, UCLA. His game is smooth and he rarely plays out of control, but he didn't dominate during his only season in Westwood to be worthy of Top 10 consideration. Is that a sign of how good he can be, or how shallow the player pool is? I just know that he was fifth-leading scorer on his team, and three of those players won't come close to being drafted. He only scored in double figures in 14 of his team's 35 games. Conversely, Tyreke Evans didn't score in double digits only five times, and was the difference in his team's success once he moved to the point. At 6'3", Holiday is that dreaded "undersized combo guard," but he isn't the scorer like Ben Gordon, or the explosive player like Rodney Stuckey. He should develop nicely, if given the opportunity. If...

Prospect We Love Today That We'll Hate in Five Years: Blake Griffin, Oklahoma. I mean, he's going to the Clippers. That alone will invoke Olowokandi jokes. Moment of silence for the Blake we one knew...followed by a video montage to remember him before they rob him of his soul....

Prospect We Hate Today That We'll Love in Five Years: Gerald Henderson, Duke. He went to Duke and still has that Krzyzewski odor on him; but I'm slowly seeing that he is different from the typical Blue Devil aristocrat player (I'm looking at you, J.J.). He wants to run, loves playing through contact, and he's internally gritty. Plus, he elbowed Tyler Hansbrough right in the nose, taking him down a peg. A +1 to you, Mr. Henderson, for that; even though I side with the Tar Heels. Let's hope he can shed the shadows of Coach K and succeed where DeMarcus Nelson couldn't.

Best Basketball Comment (Probably Ever): Brandon Jennings, Compton/Italy. When asked, "What position do you play?" Jennings responds in only someone with that much inner belief in his own awesome can—by replying, "3-guard." That deserves it's own HOF plaque, and should be his slogan if/when he gets a shoe deal. Hopefully, his struggles overseas has grounded him and he'll be able to harness all that ability he possesses. And yes, he has way more upside than Ricky Rubio.

Prospect We Know Followed In College That We'll Forget in Five Years: Tyler Hansbrough/Ty Lawson/Danny Green, UNC (tie). Part of this is where they're projected to be selected, and part of it is history. The 2005 Tar Heel championship team had three studs on it as well, and right now, only Ray Felton is semi-relevant; and that's almost gone as soon as Larry Brown realizes DJ Augustin is better than him. The same appears to hold true for UNC's most recent triumverate, with Lawson being the most relevant in the future—simply on Felton comparisons alone. Green, while talented, will most likely be picked in the 2nd round and doomed to the end of someone's bench. This brings me to Psycho T. His sheer will may keep him employed for a long time; and by most scouts' account, he's underrated skill-wise. His case is the most curious of all the prospects—even more so than Curry's—because he's already being written off as a solid backup. Maybe he'll rise up. Maybe he won't.

Prospect We Knew Little About That Will Amaze In Five Years: Marcus Thornton, LSU. Thornton nearly single-handedly derailed UNC's title run in the second round. As a 6'4" PG, he's everything Chicago thought Ben Gordon would be, and he's five inches taller (you can't tell me Gordon's 6'1"). Portland should take him at #24, because he's what they thought Jerryd Bayless would be.

First-Round Pick That Should Be A Second-Round Pick: Dejuan Summers, Georgetown. Good at a lot, but not great at one thing. He's like fellow Hoya Jeff Green, but not nearly as good or as high a basketball IQ. I can't think of a moment that propelled him into the first round, but I guess that's another testament to how weak this draft really is.

Second-Round Pick That Should Be A First-Round Pick: Dionte Christmas, Temple/Lester Hudson, Tenn-Martin. Christmas is the best shooting, um, shooting guard in the whole group. Catching and releasing is his game, and he's above average at creating one off the dribble. But it's Hudson I'd like to talk about. If he were 20, he'd be Rodney Stuckey and climbing up everyone's draft board. But since he's 24, he's stuck in the second round, and will probably have the stars align for him to get NBA minutes. Nevertheless, his college stats are absurd, and I've seen him play a couple times. He literally did everything for the 6'4". Someone please give him a chance. If given the right situation, he'll be like Ramon Sessions.

So that's concluded the FU 2009 pre-draft spec-tac-u-lar. If there's any debate, omissions, or additions, feel free to let me know in the comments.


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